Friday, August 28, 2009

A Slight Change

I traded my black Telecaster to Bill Lapham at Soundcheck Music straight up for a G&L Asat Classic. Yes, I realize the two guitars look almost identical (black, tortiseshell pickguard, rosewood fingerboard) but the don't SOUND identical. The G&L is 10 times spankier and has a tremendous growl in the low end. Lots more recorded presence than the Tele did.

Here they are.

Now, on a TOTALLY Different Subject

I'm sorry to deviate from my usual ramblings about guitars, players, and technique. But, real life has intruded upon me and I am going to comment on it.

My five-year-0ld daughter was playing on the monkey bars at school this Thursday AM, when she had a bad fall. To reduce a long story to a paragraph, she broke her arm. Shattered is more like it. The ball at the end of the ulna was totally broken off and floating free in her arm. She required surgery to repair it. She is home now thanks to the intrepid staff at Sierra Nevada Hospital who looked after her with care, good humor, and professionalism. We were also blessed because her orthopedic surgeon was here on a round (apparently there is a traveling group of surgeons that make the rounds of hospitals throughout North America) visiting from Montreal. He was, in short brilliant. The Larry Carlton of the scalpel.

So, none of that is my rant. Thus beginneth the rant.

While in the hospital we made clear to the staff that our daughter (adopted from China in '05) is allergic to red food dyes (actually all food dyes, but red is the worst), and high fructose corn syrup. Setting aside for a moment that these ingredients are bad for EVERYONE, we specified that she has these allergies and that giving either product to her is the equivalent of pouring water on a Gremlin (not the car, the character from the 80's movie). She becomes an absolute beast; angry one second, inconsolable the next, violent, and totally out of control. For those of you who would try to dismiss this as a parent's imagination, WE HAVE LEARNED THIS THROUGH HARD LESSONS - IN OTHER WORDS, LETTING HER HAVE THESE POISONS, THEN REMOVING THEM FROM HER DIET, THEN LETTING HER HAVE THEM AGAIN - CAPICE?

(clearing my throat after yelling), OK, so the staff was wonderful and accommodating in trying to find prescriptions without venom A and venom B. Do any of you have the REMOTEST idea how hard it is to find medicine without red dye? Corn syrup is not quite as hard as long as you are searching prescription drugs (o-t-c is a whole other story) but red dye is ubiquitous. Cancel that; the world is LOUSY with it! All of which brings the following question to mind - WHO IN THE HELL NEEDS RED DYE??? It has no remedial value. It heals nothing. It doesn't even make the medicine TASTE better. Why is it there in the first place?

Do a Google search on dyes in medicine and you will get lots of discussion about dyes used to find internal medical problems, not discussions of why clearly and absolutely USELESS dyes are in cough syrup, liquid pain reliever, etc. Does anyone else think that this is because one of the following conditions exists;
a) The lobbies for the food products industries have the pharmaceutical companies in their pockets, or
b) There is so much artificial dye being produced that they would sell it to ANYONE to get rid of it and make a proft.

Now, I am no socialist. I believe in making products and selling them at a profit. Fender, Gibson, Paul Reed Smith, C.F. Martin, Anchor Brewery, and Omaha Steaks are all among my favorite capitalist agencies and I am happy to give them my custom. But no one tries to get me to swallow a Les Paul Standard every time I take cold medicine. And, more directly, no one lobbies the government to take away all my alternatives and lie to me about the quality of the product with these others.

I have read many a medical article stating that "red dyes are safe for most kids." Whether that is true or not (and I doubt it) it doesn't address the fact that they are TOTALLY SUPERFLUOUS TO THE REQUIREMENT. Who cares how red the product it? Does it taste good/work well/ whatever? The redness quotient is the domain of marketing wonks who exist only to do useless things like run focus groups.

Let's get rid of the food dyes!!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

In Memorium: Les Paul

This past week, one of the 20th century's certified geniuses passed away. Les Paul left us and re-joined Mary Ford where the two of them can make heavenly music again.

Why should we care about Les Paul?
  1. The solid body electric guitar: this singular invention, often derided by critics, has become the standard instrument of our time. It is an instrument entirely its own, able to make sounds in the hands of a skilled player that defy all others. It is an orchestra by itself. And les gave it to us by first fastening strings and a neck to a piece of railroad track.
  2. Multi-track recording: there is no film score, no Beatles record, no pop music recording that is not a product of Les' genius. Just think about a world without multi-track recording. Then bow your knee and thank God for Les.
  3. The echo box: the Les Paulverizer was a masterful little invention and created a style that gave us repeat echos in country music, and ultimately the Edge, from U2. All of this emanates from Les.
And I could go on and on. The recordings that he did with Chet Atkins are masterpieces of improvisation. I can only hope that somewhere, in eternity, the Wizard of Waukeshaw and the Country Gentleman will meet up again.

Farewell, Les. You have guided me long and well.

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Musician, educator, audio engineer, guitar junkie!